PCC: Scottish newspapers did not breach code by publishing picture of four-year-old shared on Facebook - Press Gazette

PCC: Scottish newspapers did not breach code by publishing picture of four-year-old shared on Facebook

The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News have been cleared by the Press Complaints Commission after publishing a photograph of a young football supporter that had been circulated on social media.

A four-year-old Hearts supporter, whose face was pixilated, was shown in the picture at a Hibernian away match holding up a sign that said: "Dad this place is a s***hole!! 5-1".

His father shared the image on Facebook, not knowing it would be publicly accessible, and it was then picked up by the two Scottish newspapers.

After being ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ by hundreds of people – including many Hearts fans – the Evening News wrote a story headlined “A sign of the times?”, while the Scotsman article said: "Anger at young Hearts fan's banner baiting Hibs".

The boy’s father complained to the Press Complaints Commission under Clause 6 of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which states that children under 16 must not be photographed on issues involving their welfare without the consent of a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult.

The PCC rejected the complaints after considering the extent to which the photograph was already in the public domain and the public interest in publishing it. It also highlighted the fact that the boy’s face had been pixilated.

The father also complained to the PCC that the publication represented a breach of privacy under Clause 3. The PCC rejected this complaint, citing the public interest in publication.

Both titles took the picture down from their websites and the Evening News offered to apologise in print and online for publishing it.

Charlotte Dewar, director of complaints and pre-publication services, said: "The terms of the code provide strong protection for children, but the commission recognises that there is an important public interest in airing issues relating to children's welfare. In some instances, this means discussing individual cases.

"This case raised potentially sensitive issues, but the commission decided that the newspapers' approach had been responsible and appropriate, and showed due concern for the welfare of the child at the centre of the story."



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